Saturday, September 17, 2016

Huck Poe at Elgin Fringe Festival

In a closet beneath the stairs at Fringe Central, I meet a smartly-dressed man seated behind a small table. Holding out an origami fortune teller, he asks me to choose the handwritten name of a bodily humor, barely visible in the dim light: Blood, Phlegm, Yellow Bile, Black Bile. I choose Yellow Bile.

Huck Poe as Diagnostradamus at Elgin Fringe Festival.

The man called "Diagnostradamus" operates the origami fortune teller ten times with his fingers, once for every letter in yellow bile. "Choose a precept of Buddha's Eightfold Path to Arahtship," he says. I choose Right Effort. Beneath its flap of origami: a six.

"Choose a number between 27 and 259," he says.  I choose 856. I choose again: 156. Diagnostradamus produces a paperback book of medicine, describing sicknesses, illnesses and deformities. The sixth disease on page 156 is Hypothyroidism.  As he reads, I feel my energy flagging, my digestion coming to a halt.

From this, Diagnostradaumus divines for me a fortune. "This indicates a lack of vitality, a cessation of growth. You need to break out of your monotony and discover and experience new things."

I thank him without making eye contact and make my way south on Spring Street, with a backpack full of ice beer, rough drafts of performance reviews, a Fringe Festival program and an empty bottle of Aleve. His services were free.

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